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Oxford Literature Professor Fired to Enhance 'Diversity', Claims $130,000

The 69-year-old, a specialist in Shakespeare as well as Elizabethan and Jacobean literature and poetry, claimed that he was "forcibly retired" in 2016 after Oxford University applied an Employment Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) policy.

Professor John Pitcher, who had worked at the St John's The Baptist College at the University of Oxford for more than 36 years, is claiming more than £102,000 (about $130,000) in loss of earnings after he was told to retire to promote "diversity."

The college insisted that the forced retirement was also necessitated by the need to "safeguard the high standards" of the university and to "refresh the workforce."

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Pitcher, for his part, told an employment tribunal "that decision was discriminatory because of age and was not justified and was also unfair."

He referred to the Employment Justified Retirement Age (EJRA) policy, saying that a retirement age of 67 years was applied to him and that "this age is far too low."

"I can see that I would be able to carry on working, as would many of my colleagues, well into my mid-70s. […] To be forced to reapply for my job by trying to satisfy an unreasonably high threshold test that I am virtually indispensable to the university when I had decades of impeccable service is degrading and humiliating," he underlined.

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Professor Maggie Snowling, President of the St John's The Baptist College, in turn, pointed out that a decision to prevent Pitcher from working beyond his EJRA "is not to question any of the work that he has done."

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"The EJRA helped both the college and university take steps towards a more diverse academic body and will continue to do so. It is a proportionate means of ensuring increasing diversity and inter-generational fairness," Snowling said.

Meanwhile, Pitcher has claimed that he had already been removed from the Oxford University website and offered unpaid Emeritus status.

The college, for its part, argued that Pitcher continues to pay below market rent for college accommodation, lunches and dinners. Additionally, he still has access to the university's library and a research allowance.

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